Flying private aircraft in the Middle East

From Professional Pilot magazine, “Middle East: A trip to this region can be a straight-forward, easy and rewarding experience for the well-prepared operator.”

With todays longer range aircraft, many smaller airports – and those in less secure areas – are used much less frequently for tech stops. LUX (Luxor, Egypt), CAI (Cairo, Egypt), BEY (Beirut, Lebanon) and ADE (Aden, Yemen) are now often bypassed.

The UAE has become a predominant tech stop venue for corporate operators transiting this region. MCT (Muscat, Oman), DOH (Doha, Qatar) and BAH (Bahrain) also remain popular tech stops. ISPs say Saudi Arabia also works well for efficient fuel uplifts within the region.

Iran turns out to be the sweet spot!

Saudi permits can be arranged quickly, visas and sponsor letters are not required for tech stops, and efficient airway routings are available. For GA tech stop purposes, however, there are only 3 Saudi locations that are normally used: JED (Jeddah), RUH (Riyadh) and DMM (Dammam). Iran, on the other hand, has over 300 airports available to GA, and presents a plethora of good tech stop and crew rest opportunities with generally efficient ground services, say ISPs.

Don’t show up in a Gulfstream G280, built by Israel Aircraft Industries:

If you have Israeli citizens onboard, your aircraft was built in Israel or if your GA operation is flying out of Israel, you’re generally not welcome in this region – other than ops to either Jordan or Egypt.

Watch out for missiles…

Syria has basically become a no-fly zone, particularly for N-registered operators, as a result of ongoing military activity.

Operators are advised to stay above FL260 when overflying the Sinai region of Egypt, while the eastern side of the Black Sea has become problematic as many airways push you into eastern Ukraine, which is a no-fly zone.

Fuller suggests caution when planning routings through the Middle East region. “It seems like 50% of the countries in this region have had reports of missiles going through their airspace over recent years,” he says. “Route of flight and overflight permits can be significantly impacted by no-fly zones, restricted airspace and SOPs of the particular flight department.”

But we’re getting a return on our multi-trillion-dollar investment in the Iraq War:

Previously, special permission had been needed to overfly Iraq but this situation has recently changed. “Iraq airspace opened up earlier this year and N-registered aircraft may now overfly the country with few restrictions,” says Williams. “Above FL260, all airways are available for GA overflight although not all operators are comfortable with doing this.”